So much for ethics. The $2 billion a year tutoring industry, spawned by NCLB requirements and accountable to no one for results, is so lucrative that companies can't resist. At least one is fudging on this ethical imperative, and it is none other than Newton Learning, which is owned by none other than Edison Schools, Inc. Yes, that one. Here is part of the story from IndyStar.com:
Newton Learning is among eight groups approved by IPS to tutor up to 650 students at Marshall Middle School. Another is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, which has a contract worth up to $900,000 for lessons to as many as 600 IPS students this year. The actual amount paid will be determined by the number of students attending lessons.
Marshall Principal Jamyce Banks appreciates the work of tutors from the nonprofit group. But she questions the approach Newton Learning has taken. The IPS School Board granted Newton a $525,000 contract for as many as 350 students this school year.
Newton tutoring sessions were supposed to start Nov. 28, the day dozens of students stayed after school to start the program. No tutors showed up, though, and Banks later learned the firm had pushed back the start date to January.
Banks said Newton signed up the students it has by promising $100 gift cards. Newton said the money was an incentive for students to attend every session, not just for signing up. Children would need to attend every lesson to receive the gift card -- they have been paid nothing in advance.
In the past, Newton and other tutoring groups did hand out gifts for signing up. This year, Newton changed -- and the state put a $100 cap on the value of incentives.
"We're competing with Xbox and TV and all of the other things they can be doing besides being tutored," said Joel Rose, general manager of Newton Learning, the tutoring division of Edison Schools. "If they don't come, they don't learn."